Sen. Kamala Harris Awed by ‘Courage’ of Woman Who Had Abortion

By Melanie Arter | July 5, 2019 | 12:19pm EDT
(Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

( - At a rally Wednesday in Des Moines, Iowa, sponsored by NARAL Pro-Choice America, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) told a woman who shared her story about getting an abortion that she was in “awe” of her courage.

“I just first, I’m in awe of your courage to speak, really, to speak in this venue with all who are here and with such grace to tell your story that is a very personal story and is a story that many women in America can tell, but you have a special ability to have the confidence and the courage to speak it in a room like this, and those truths need to be heard by everyone, so I first just want to thank you for that. I really do,” Harris said.


The woman, who identified herself as an undecided Iowa Democrat named Katie, said she was impressed with Harris’ performance in the Democratic presidential debate and that she was “very happy to be in a room with so many pro-choice Iowans.”

She said she had been “an active supporter of NARAL for the past 10 years.”



“About 10 years ago, I found myself facing an unplanned pregnancy” in college, the woman said. “To be totally honest, I’d never really thought too much about reproductive rights, because I never thought I would need them, but I do distinctly remember the moment I found out I was pregnant. I had two immediate thoughts before the denial and all those feelings that come later. I remember thinking, I need to have an abortion, and oh, I live in Iowa.”

“I knew that abortion was a controversial subject, but up until that point, I’d never really considered how the controversy would impact the whole trajectory of my life,” she said.

The woman talked about Googling whether abortion was legal in Iowa and “how to get an abortion in Iowa, and I remember just seeing pages and pages of results about all the different ways Iowa Republicans were trying to restrict reproductive rights.”

“Fortunately, I was lucky, and I was able to get abortion care in my home state without having to jump through too many legal hoops, but that feeling, that fear of I know what I need, but I don’t know if I’ll be able to legally access it has stayed with me,” she said.

The woman said looking back her feelings on her abortion fluctuates between “100 percent” confidence that she did the right thing and feelings of sadness that she aborted her baby.

“It’s been 10 years now since my abortion, and if I’m totally honest, my feelings about it have kind of fluctuated. Sometimes I’m 100 percent confident that I made the right decision, and sometimes, I’m not that sure. Sometimes I think about it, and I’m really happy that I was able to choose my own path, and sometimes I really am sad about the path that I didn’t choose, but the one thing that has been constant is that I’m incredibly grateful that I was able to make that decision for myself,” she said, as the crowd applauded her.

“The other thing that has been constant is that Republican lawmakers have been trying to take that power away,” she said.

The woman asked Harris, “This is a crowded field where we know defending abortion access is the floor, not the ceiling for candidates. We know that each candidate has promised to veto dangerous anti-choice legislation, but with Roe v. Wade under dire and immediate threat, we need more than that. My question for you is, what is your plan for proactively safeguarding reproductive freedom and locking in these fundamental rights, and what would a Harris administration do that others might not to protect reproductive choice?”

After praising the woman for sharing her story, Harris said, “So, listen, first of all, I think what I’m offering in terms of pre-clearance is something that no one has talked about or offered before. It’s a new, it’s a new approach, and maybe it comes from the fact that in my background, I was for two terms the attorney general of California.

“I ran the second largest Department of Justice in the United States, second only to the United States Department of Justice. I will also tell you in terms of my background, I shared with you that my parents were active in the civil rights movement,” the senator said.

“Well what inspired me to want to become a lawyer was actually those lawyers who are active in the civil rights movement. It was Thurgood Marshall and Charles Hamilton Houston and Constance Baker Motley. It was these individuals who understood the skill and power of the law to translate the passion from the streets to the court rooms of our country and ensure that people who deserve full equality under the law receive it,” she said.

“That’s why I wanted to be a lawyer, to make sure that happened, and so it is through that lens that I actually do think of a number of issues, including this issue, which is let’s continue with our activism. Let’s continue to take it to the streets,” Harris said.

“Let’s also do what we need to do around litigation against these bad laws, but let’s also from a pro-active position, think about how this is a fundamental issue of justice, and in that way, that’s how I think about the role of the United States Department of Justice, which is why I’m saying, in a Harris administration, we will have pre-clearance requirements for any state that infringes on a woman’s access to reproductive health care if they have a history of doing that, so that is a new and a different approach,” the senator added.

“I will also tell you that for me this is not a new issue, working on this. I have been working on women’s access to reproductive health care for a long time – throughout my years as attorney general for example, when there were laws that were being passed and legislation that was being passed in any way to restrict a woman’s access, including issues like parental consent. I have always been front and center in being an advocate on what we need to do to make sure that we don’t infringe on a woman’s ability to make decisions,” she said.


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